Man jailed for raping wife has sentence increased
Victim had asked for husband not to be jailed saying she had forgiven him
The judge said the court must consider the offence as an attack on society and “not simply a private wrong”. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien.
A man jailed for raping his wife has had his sentence increased by the Court of Appeal after she asked a judge not to send him to prison.
The three judge court found that the original sentence of five years with two suspended “did not adequately reflect the gravity of the offending conduct” and increased the sentence to seven-and-a-half years with two suspended.
The 38-year-old man, who cannot be identified to protect the victim’s identity, was found guilty following a trial at the Central Criminal Court of raping and sexually assaulting his wife at their home in Dublin on August 30th, 2015.
He had denied the charges but accepted the jury’s verdict and apologised to his wife in court.
In a victim impact statement, the man’s wife said she had spent years in fear of her husband over what he would say or do. “One day he would be ok, another day he would be violent,” she said.
A week later she wrote a letter to the sentencing judge saying she had forgiven her husband and did not want him to go to jail. She said everything in her earlier statement was true, but she now “regretted” bringing the case against him.
Justice Isobel Kennedy, delivering the judgment on Tuesday, said the offence was aggravated by the breach of trust between husband and wife and the fact that he restricted her so that she could neither breathe nor scream during the assault.
He also forcibly removed her clothes and made her feel humiliated and degraded in her own home. She added that in cases of marital rape, “the gravity of the offence will always be aggravated by the breach of trust and betrayal of the victim.”
Justice Kennedy said the court attached very little weight to the apology made by the defendant following the guilty verdict. She added: “An acknowledgement of guilt and expression of remorse post-conviction must be viewed with considerable scepticism.”
She noted that the sentencing judge had taken aggravating factors into account and applied the sentence of five years with two suspended after considering the defendant’s lack of previous convictions, work history, relationship with his children and his position as the primary care giver.
But Justice Kennedy, sitting with Justice George Birmingham and Justice John Edwards, said the Court of Appeal found that the headline sentence set by the judge was “unduly lenient” and represented an error in principle.
Justice Kennedy also noted the plea by the victim, in which she said she was most affected by the impact of her husband’s imprisonment on her children, her financial circumstances, her hope of reconciliation and the impact on the wider family.
She added: “It was clear that she indicated to the court that a custodial sentence for the defendant would only add to her suffering.” However, Justice Kennedy said the court must consider the offence as an attack on society and “not simply a private wrong”.
Therefore, she said the victim’s attitude is only a factor to be taken into account when sentencing. She said an appropriate headline sentence for the offence would be 10 years but taking all factors into account the court reduced that to seven-and-a-half years.
She said the sentencing judge had suspended the final two years of the five-year sentence as a result of the victim’s plea for clemency and the Court of Appeal would also suspend the final two years.